Sea Otters are so adorable but so sick
When dealing with complex problems in wildlife, it sometimes seems there is nothing we can do. Perhaps we believe this, even more, when it comes to the marine environment. There is hope, though, thanks to clever work happening in wildlife health research. Take, for example, the devastating parasitic disease in sea otters called toxoplasmosis. This disease can make otters sick and cause their death. But through research, we have learned much that can help the otters. A key research finding was that cat feces from stormwater runoff is the source of infection.
To prevent the disease, researchers needed to know more. They had to find the particular cat populations causing the illness. The research team set out to determine this. They collected samples from cats along the Central California coast. From those samples, they created an extensive map of the parasite strains in the area. The next step will be to compare these strains between cat and otter populations.
The results will equip wildlife managers, water quality teams, and urban planners. They will have what they need to decide where and how to intervene for reducing the risk of this disease.
So, there is hope. Well thought-out wildlife health research is necessary. And it makes solutions to complex problems like this possible.
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